New GSMA Report Sees North America Leading Global Adoption of New Mobile Technologies

Operator Investment in 4G Networks Driving Huge Data Growth Across
Region with High Smartphone Usage; Mobile Industry Contributing
Significantly to Regional Economy

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–North America is leading in the adoption of new mobile technologies such
as 4G networks, the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital commerce, as
well as innovations in operating systems and apps, according to a new
GSMA study published today at the GSMA
Mobile 360 Series – North America
conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
The report, ‘The
Mobile Economy – North America 2015
’, highlights that the region has
been an early adopter of 4G networks, which are driving considerable
growth in mobile data traffic. 4G is forecast to account for more than
80 per cent of total connections by 2020¹. North America is home to more
than 250 million unique subscribers, equivalent to a unique subscriber
penetration rate of 70 per cent and 360 million mobile connections
(excluding M2M), with three-quarters of connections being smartphones.²

“The North American mobile industry has been the strongest performing of
any developed region globally for some time, characterised by
substantial subscriber growth, the early adoption of new technologies,
high levels of mobile usage and strong revenue trends,” said Michael
O’Hara, Chief Marketing Officer, GSMA. “The region continues to lead
innovation in a number of areas in the mobile ecosystem, including
hardware, access technologies, operating systems and new apps and
services that are scaling rapidly and changing how individuals live and

Increasing Data Usage Driven by 4G Adoption

North America’s mobile operators have invested heavily in 4G networks,
resulting in rapid deployment and high uptake with 98 per cent
population coverage in the United States and 92 per cent coverage in
Canada. Operators in both markets are already in the process of
launching LTE-A (Advanced), which offers even faster speeds for users in
addition to voice over LTE (VoLTE) services. Mobile data is expected to
grow at a 42 per cent CAGR through 2019 to nearly 11 GB per user per
month, compared to a global average of 4 GB³, with usage driven heavily
by content from third-party sites and apps, particularly video.

Delivering Economic Growth, Employment and Public Funding

The North American mobile industry contributed approximately US$670
billion to the economy, equivalent to 3.5 per cent of the region’s GDP
in 2014, a figure that is expected to increase to US$750 billion by 20204.
Across the region, the mobile industry employed more than 2.2 million
people (directly and indirectly) in 2014 and the ecosystem contributed
US$75 billion in public sector funding, excluding the impact of
regulatory and spectrum fees. Driven by the rapid rollout of 4G
networks, mobile operators in the region have invested nearly US$35
billion per year in network infrastructure development over recent years.

Operating Systems and Applications

North America is seen as a dominant player in the development of
innovative services in mobile such as mobile devices and apps, although
there are developments in Asian markets. Operating systems originating
in North America also continue to dominate the global smartphone market,
accounting for around 95 per cent of global sales in 2014.

The United States is home to the world’s largest app market in terms of
revenue and has seen a number of new apps and services scale rapidly
both domestically and internationally. These include services based
around the new ‘sharing economy’, such as Uber and Airbnb, which have
been funded and supported by a highly developed venture capital
community predominantly based in Silicon Valley.

The Internet of Things and Digital Commerce

The North American region has also embraced the IoT particularly in the
connected car, mobile health and wearable device segments, with mobile
playing a crucial role. According to GSMA Intelligence there were 54
million M2M connections in Q3 2015 across the region and although still
a nascent market, the proportion of M2M connections as a percentage of
total connections in North America is higher than in any other region of
the world5. Brands such as Google’s Nest and Samsung’s
Smart Things have created an environment where consumers increasingly
expect the seamless integration of a growing number of connected
devices. The digital commerce market is also becoming more
mobile-centric in North America, with an increasing number of banks,
card issuers and retailers in the region supporting mobile payments.

“The region’s rapidly evolving mobile landscape has benefitted from a
high level of operator investment and a vibrant venture capital
community that has resulted in numerous innovations that many of us take
for granted today,” added O’Hara. “Looking ahead, continued
collaboration between North American operators and players across the
broader mobile ecosystem will be essential in enabling the market to
realise its full potential.”

To access the full report and related infographics please visit:


Note to Editors:

1.) 4G already accounts for just over half of the connection base in the
US, while Canada is expected to breach the 50% level in early 2016. By
the end of the decade, 84% of connections in North America are forecast
to be on 4G networks.

2.) The US is by far the largest market with 232 million unique mobile
subscribers, a penetration rate of about 72%. In Canada the rate is
still much lower at 56%, with a total of 20 million unique subscribers.

3.) Cisco forecasts that mobile data usage will grow at a 42% CAGR in
North America through to 2019, reaching nearly 11 GB per user per month.
This compares to a global average growth rate of 24% and a 2019 usage
level of 4 GB.

4.) This total impact includes a direct economic contribution of mobile
operators and the rest of the mobile ecosystem of $217 billion (1.1% of
GDP), an indirect impact on the rest of the economy of $130 billion
(0.7% of GDP), and a productivity impact of $324 billion (1.7% of GDP)
brought about by the use of mobile technology by businesses and workers
in the region.

5.) Cellular M2M: 12.8% of connections in North America (Q3 2015),
global average is 3.9%, the next highest region is Europe at 8.2%

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting
nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile
ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies,
equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in
adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading
events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai and
the Mobile 360 Series conferences.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at
Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.


For the GSMA
Nikki Flynn
206 576 5577
GSMA Press Office